OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- To help increase needed supplies of ethanol and other renewable fuels, Black & Veatch, a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company, today announced it has launched Clean Energy Technologies LLC (CET).

Black & Veatch has worked with Clean Energy LLC to modify and optimize an early stage biogasification technology concept originally proposed by Pearson Technologies, based in Baton Rouge, La. By applying world class, multi-disciplined process engineering talent, the parties have created the new CET Process for use in renewable fuel production. Black & Veatch plans to engineer, design and construct the initial plants using the CET Process. Later, CET will license the technology to others for development, engineering and construction.

Unlike conventional fermentation processes which are dependent upon grains or other costly feedstocks, the CET Process uses abundant carbonaceous materials, such as corn stover, switchgrass, wood waste and other types of biomass and plant waste materials, to produce a syngas that is catalytically converted to ethanol or other higher value products.

The CET process has been shortlisted for the award of a U.S. government grant for the demonstration of a commercial integrated biorefinery plant. CET will be commercializing the process through this government demonstration project or through an alternative project in the near future.

"This is a very important milestone toward increasing the production of ethanol and other renewable fuels to meet rising demand for this environmentally positive energy source," said Dean Oskvig, President and CEO of Black & Veatch's global energy business. "The U.S. Administration recently called for annual ethanol production to increase about 300 percent to 35 billion gallons by 2017 to reduce demand for imported oil. The CET Process is vital in helping reach that goal.

"This thermochemical process is truly cutting-edge," added Oskvig. "There are nearly 100 ethanol plants in the United States, and they utilize a corn fermentation process to produce ethanol. The CET Process is based on conversion of carbonaceous materials, which allows multiple types of biomass and waste products to be converted into fuel."

Currently, ethanol plants are located in major corn production regions in the Midwest. As a result, rail transportation of fuels to meet demand in other parts of the U.S. increases product costs. The CET Process uses generally available carbonaceous materials so fuel processing plants can be constructed closer to higher population areas where fuel demand is greatest, which lowers the transportation and overall product costs.

Since the process uses a variety of plant biomass, and is designed to produce more ethanol per ton of feedstock than does the fermentation process, it makes the process more economical in fuel production when compared to higher market prices for corn.

"If the United States is going to make a paradigm shift toward large-scale ethanol and other alternative fuels production, it will have to happen by using much more than corn kernels alone," said Ted Pintcke, vice president of Business Development for Black & Veatch's energy business. "It will require using the whole corn stalk, as well as other plant waste biomass. That's what makes this technology so exciting."

In the CET Process, carbonaceous materials are rapidly heated in the presence of steam and absence of oxygen to produce a synthesis gas (or syngas) composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The resulting syngas is then passed through special catalysts to produce the desired product such as ethanol, methanol, synthetic diesel, aviation, or other fuels, as well as chemicals such as hydrogen and ammonia.

The original concept invented by Stan Pearson, a chemical engineer with a distinguished history of engineering accomplishments with multinational chemical and other industrial companies, demonstrated the possibilities.

"The CET process is a breakthrough technology that has the potential to widely expand ethanol production capabilities, which can help meet the significantly growing demand for this energy source," said Pearson. "I'm very pleased that Black & Veatch has been able to create this new process which promises such an outstanding result."

Oskvig observed that Black & Veatch has a long history in the development and construction of renewable energy sources including hydroelectric generation and the National
Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia Laboratories. The company also has previously designed and constructed wood waste-fueled power plants and waste-to-energy plants.

Most recently, Black & Veatch has supported project developers, utilities, and government entities with consulting, engineering, and construction services for all major renewable energy technologies.

Black & Veatch is a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company specializing in infrastructure development in energy, water, telecommunications, management consulting, federal and environmental markets. Founded in 1915, Black & Veatch develops tailored infrastructure solutions that meet clients' needs and provide sustainable benefits. With more than $2 billion in revenue, the employee-owned company has more than 100 offices worldwide and has completed projects in more than 100 countries on six continents.

SOURCE: Black & Veatch via Business Wire.